Q and A session with Voorhees College New Head Baseball Coach Justin Thomas in anticipation for the 2015 season.
1. What has been your greatest challenge since you accepted the position?
Discipline. Discipline. Discipline.
Instilling discipline was initially a challenge, but I believe these young men have bought in and have also realized as a coach there are certain things that I will not tolerate nor permit to happen. Once they realized that it became easier to instill discipline. It took time, but once they changed internally the discipline process had begun.
2. Breakout player this year?
If I had to select one I would have to say CF Seth Eakin. He is going to be out there every day and I expect him to produce every day. I am not going to put pressure on him to do so, but I believe he has to ability to perform consistently. Most important he has the desire and passion to want to play ball and be successful. The intangible things separate athletes and he has some of those qualities. Iím excited to see him run down fly balls this spring.
3. Silent assassin for the season?
Outfield / Pitcher Jarious Whiten.
I believe he can have a huge season. I know he will be a large part of any success we have. He is someone who can expect to be in the line-up consistently as well as have his share of innings on the mound. He has a simple, short swing which will lessen the chance of developing a flaw. He is a LHP with a low ĺ are slot which will create difficulty for hitters. He has been consistent since day one in the field and on the mound. Iím anxious to see him on game days.
4. Greatest strength / weakness?
Our greatest strength will be our team defense. All fall each player understood their defensive responsibilities. Play above average team defense will help us remain in games longer and help our pitching staff tremendously. Our fundamentals are sound and I anticipate routine plays to be made, which leads me to what could be our greatest weakness Ė doing too much. Offensively more so than defensively I can see us getting into the habit of doing too much, wanting the big hit, and trying to make everything look pretty. We arenít going to be a pretty team. We have to be gritty, playing with a lot of instincts, out hustle, out heart, and out gut people. What else would you expect from a head coach from Pittsburgh? Blue Collar mentality each and every day.
5. What aspect of the team do you expect the biggest initial improvement?
IQ. I believe weíll be a more intelligent baseball team. Understanding situations as well as knowing our responsibilities pre pitch. Execution will be a huge part of our success as a team. Execution of simple task in game, know our own responsibilities and fulfilling them will help us win games. Anticipation and reacting versus thinking is something I have been preaching to these young men. Understand what you are doing and understand the situation, but play baseball too.
6. How do you change the mindset of a team that only won 3 games in 2014?
I believe it is a process to accomplish this, but we are in the final stages. It started with a new coach and a new philosophy in the fall. In the fall also came with new levels of discipline and practice methods. In January we added new faces on the field mixed with the faces from fall. Someone now may be challenging you for your position so there is more competition within our team which in the long haul will make us better. The final stages will consist of learning how to win. Having the positive mindset late in games believe something will go right instead of wrong. Itís all internally then the fruits are produced externally and then displayed on the field. We must expect to win. Also, once we get wins under our belt will our confidence level as a whole. It will happen and I canít wait to be a part of it.
7. Why do you believe your team can compete for a GCAC conference title?
8. What can people expect from the 2015 Voorhees Tigers Baseball Team?
A hungry baseball team. A baseball team anxious to prove doubters wrong and a team ready to reap the benefits of the hard work theyíve put in. These young men have worked hard since day one. I truly believe the redirection of the program is in the process and we have a solid foundation in these young men to do so.